“Are we there yet?”

Research has shown that young flyers take just 49 minutes and 47 seconds to ask the dreaded question.

Teaming up with psychologist and boredom specialist at the University of Central Lancashire Dr Sandi Mann, Emirates has come up with a list of tips that can combat children’s boredom when travelling on a plane.

Keep your kids entertained on the plane

Dr Mann has created a suggested guide for how to structure a plane journey for each age range. The activities are categorised as the following:

Active, Passive, Interactive, Creative or Sensory

The idea is that by mixing these up and stopping an activity at the right time, boredom and restlessness will be minimised.

  • Passive – watching films, listening to music
  • Active – walking up and down the aisle, playing with a pack of cards
  • Creative – drawing, colouring books
  • Sensory – refreshments
  • Interactive – reading a storybook, chatting

For young children, you don’t need very sophisticated toys for a plane journey and will be most amused by things in the environment – including people and of course their parents.

For example, this could be ‘I Spy’ whilst, regular walks up the aisle are good for toddlers for exercise and for pre-toddles to change the visual environment. Singing and interactive games like peekaboo are also great, recommends Dr Mann.

How To Keep Your Child Entertained On The Plane

Dr Sandi Mann further comments: “Older children can be given simple materials like notebooks and pens, puzzle books and comics. Ensure that they take breaks every so often to walk up and down the plane and try to restrict the passive viewing just like you might at home. Don’t be afraid of them being bored as left to their own devices with a few basic materials, they will find creative ways to engage their brains.”


  • Encouraging children to sleep

After electronic activities, the next most time occupying activity is sleeping. Surprisingly, there is very little difference across the ages with parents reckoning that all children from 0-12 sleep for around 80 minutes on a plane. Make sure you pack your child’s comfort blankets, cuddly toys – all those objects that help them doze off in your hand luggage.

  • Make use of inflight entertainment systems

Watching a movie is the best distraction for all ages, and kids can spend anywhere between 70 -100 minutes on this. Watching a TV show, playing games on the inflight system and then playing on a smart device are also advised as the top entertainment for children.

Ways To Entertain Your Kids On The Plane


  • Don’t overload younger children with too many activities

Research shows that less is more when it comes to keeping young children distracted on a flight. Allow them to explore objects and things in the environment. Such as take them for walks up and down the aisles or play interactive games using their surroundings e.g. find a man wearing a hat, find a red t-shirt etc.

  • Remember to leave space in hand luggage for colouring/drawing books

Drawing is a popular activity for children aged 9 and younger. Colouring/sticker books have the most appeal for younger ages and quizzes/puzzles being better suited to older children.


  • Listening to music

11 to 12 year olds can spend up to 50 minutes listening to music compared with a mere 13 minutes for younger children.

  • Engage and talk to children

Children will chat with their parents or each other for 50 – 100 minutes in total, which is actually similar to the amount of time spent on electronic activities. So, remember during the flight to switch up activities and take away electronic devices to encourage children to talk to one another. It could be about the film they just watched or what to look forward to when the aircraft lands.

This article is contributed by Emirates.

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